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Treasures of the Emperor – Masterpieces of Chinese Art (1368-1911) had been due to run at the museum near
Hanover until January 8, 2017, but was forced to close after two Chinese collectors who loaned more than 90% of the exhibits demanded their return.

Their fears echo those of many private collectors throughout Germany who have lent their works of art to museums but are concerned that new export licence rules might prevent them being returned or allowed out of the country.

The new Act, expected to come into force in August once the German President has signed it into law, chiefly aims to tackle trafficking in looted antiquities, but the strictness of its measures has led to widespread concern in the legitimate art market, with businesses already moving their operations elsewhere.

Director of the Roemer and Pelizaeus Museum Professor Regine Schulz said: “Of course we understand of our lenders’ fears, and their desire to protect their property. The early closure of this important exhibition is a real problem for us.”